House prices rose across the UK for the first time in one and a half years last month as optimism returned among buyers and sellers, according to surveyors and estate agents.

In further evidence that the housing market is picking up, inquiries from would-be buyers, agreed sales and the number of properties coming on to the market all rose in January, according to the latest monthly snapshot from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

A net balance of 17% of surveyors and estate agents, which measures the difference between those reporting increases and those seeing decreases, reported higher house prices in January, the first time this measure has been positive since July 2018. In December, the reading was -2%.

Other surveys have also suggested a “Boris bounce” in the housing market since the general election in mid-December, although much will depend on how the Brexit process unfolds.

The Nationwide building society, which reported house price growth at a 14-month high in January, forecasts a flat outturn for 2020 as a whole.